Wright Words: 10 school year survival tips for moms and dads

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 3 2013 5:00 a.m. MDT

Jason Wright offers 10 tips for parents as their children head back to school.

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With Labor Day behind us, most school districts around the country are finally in full swing. The new school year means crisp shirts, squeaky sneakers and lunch boxes that are still fresh. Never mind that soon they will smell like they should only be handled by lab techs in HAZMAT suits.

It also means reams of advice for young scholars to succeed — or at least survive — the year. But where’s the help for mom and dad?

After an exhaustive, highly unscientific survey of parents, I’ve compiled 10 school year survival tips for moms and dads.

1. Get sleep.

Good parents often lock their kids into nighttime routines and early bedtimes, but then neglect their own sleep with television, the Internet and social media. While it’s true that every parent needs winding-down time, it shouldn’t come at the expense of a good night’s sleep. Well-rested moms and dads are happy moms and dads.

2. Plan ahead.

If your child packs a lunch, prepare over the weekend so the nightly or morning routines are simplified. If they need gym clothes only on certain days, develop a system that makes the mornings a breeze. If you spend more time preparing when the clock isn’t screaming at you, you might feel less rushed when the school bus is on final approach.

3. Think budget.

Every year we’re surprised when our children come home needing money for fees, field trips or yearbooks. Early in the year, ask teachers, coaches or office staff exactly what expenses — mandatory and optional — might pop up during the year. With a number in mind, it should be easier to budget in September for checks you might not write until May.

4. Say no.

At most schools, there are more opportunities for adults to volunteer than available hours in the day. Select the committees or activities that best fit your skill sets and interests and learn to say “no” to the others. No bake sale or candy bar fundraiser is more important than the children they benefit. Programs come and go, and so do your kids.

5. Homework counts.

Consider establishing a set schedule for your children to do homework. They should know that no matter the assignment, homework isn’t just about a smiley face sticker or grade point average. It’s one of the habits that can create successful adults who finish what they start, meet deadlines and work well without someone looking over their shoulder.

6. Know teachers.

As kids progress through school and their schedules become more complicated, it’s naturally tougher to remember names and details about every teacher. But as the challenge grows, so does the need. Make an effort to know every teacher’s name and what they’re teaching your child. Respect them and their efforts and they’re likely to respect you and yours.

7. Don’t overschedule.

Just because your child wants to join every club doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Work with your student to determine which sports, clubs or activities are most interesting and provide opportunities for growth. We should be willing to allow our children to try everything, but not necessary all at once.

8. Be positive.

Even the best parents can sometimes sound sarcastic and negative about their children’s teachers, assignments or other school experiences. Remember, it won’t take long for your opinion to become theirs. Be positive toward your children and the new school year. Whenever possible, deal with legitimate concerns privately and out of your child’s universe.

9. Eliminate distractions.

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